Robert Schumann Composer

The Life And Times Of Robert Schumann

Robert Schumann was one of the greatest German composers.He was born in Zwickau, Germany on June 8, 1810 to Friedrich August Schumann and Johanna Christiane Schnabel.. Robert was his fifth and youngest child. He began to compose when he was seven. At school, Schumann showed a keen interest in music and literature .

At Schumann’s pleading, his mother arranged for piano lessons from Friedrich Wieck. Wieck agreed to take Schumann under his wings. With time Schumann was able to develop his piano technique to a virtuoso standards. He also fell in love with Wieck’s daughter Clara.

Schumann started to compose short piano pieces and songs.  He often practised the piano for seven hours a day. However, he started to have problems with his fingers. It has often been said that he hurt his hands because he made something to stretch his fingers, but it is possible that this was due to mercury poisoning as he was under treatmet for syphilis. The permanent disability to his right hand  virtually snuffed out his career as a concert pianist. Schumann spent the rest of his life composing and writing about music.He started a journal called Neue Zeitschrift für Musik (New Journal for Music).

During 1838-1839, Schumann created a brilliant piano work for Clara to perform, the delightful Arabesque in C Major, Op. 18. This work is a good example of Schumann’s style. It abounds in fragmentary repetitions. Schumann also composed at this time 140 lieder (art songs), including many of his finest works in this genre. Among the resulting songs s were Liederkreis based on the words of Eichendorff, Frauenliebe und Leben  and Dichterliebe (A Poet's Love).

Unlike his contemporaries, Schumann tended to work in only one genre at a time. In 1841, he turned his attentions from lieder to orchestral music. Schumann composed  a beautiful, poetic piece for piano and orchestra for his belovedClara. He later modified it as the first movement of his Piano Concerto in A minor. In 1842, while Clara was away on a concert tour , he turned to chamber music, and wrote his three string quartets and three works with piano, of which the Piano Quintet remains the most popular because of its evergreen Romantic appeal.

In 1844, while on a concert tour with Clara to Russia, Schumann suffered a nervous breakdown. Schumann suffered from depressions – with alternating happy and sad spells and it can be seen in his music. His depressions hampered his creativity. In 1846-1848 he was again productive as a composer, writing chamber music, songs, and his opera Genoveva which was first performed in Leipzig in 1850 with very modest success.. Schumann's Concert Overtures include Die Braut von Messina (The Bride from Messina), based on Schiller's play of that name, Julius Cäsar, based on Shakespeare, and Hermann und Dorothea, based on Goethe.

In 1850 he took up a post in Düsseldorf as town musical director.This marked a prolific phase in Schumann career and he wrote the eloquent Cello Concerto and the Rhenish Symphony  
Robert Schumann's  breakdown in February 1854 had a complex background: a hypomanic state, some marital problems, and a stressful journey with musical appearances. Schumann had often thought of trying to kill himself. Later that month he threw himself into the river Rhine. He was rescued and admittted to an asylum where he spent the last two years of his life. He died on 29 July 1856.
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